Lotus Team Chief in Sideways Swipe at F1 Bosses Over Race Choices

May 15, 2015

By Christian Radnedge 

The ceo of the Lotus Formula 1 team has lamented the lack of control teams have in the sport labelling money as the key incentive as he addressed the issue of declining audience figures.

Matthew Carter was speaking at the Telegraph Business of Sport conference in London on Thursday when he admitted that teams are limited in how they can connect with fans of F1.

Earlier this year, adiposity official figures released by the FIA showed that F1 suffered a global drop in TV viewing figures last year. Worldwide audiences fell by 5.6 per cent to 425 million different fans tuning in across the season, for sale won by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, from 450 million previously.

There have also been criticisms of the fact that the sport favours hosting races in non-traditional racing markets such as the Middle East and Russia to the detriment of the sport’s hardcore fanbase.

Carter admitted it was difficult for the teams to exert any influence at board level.

“We can’t control that [engine changes, where races hosted],” he said. “I’ve spoken about it before – but we’re just told what sort of engines are required and we go ahead and put that in the car.

“By the same token, the FOM [Formula One Management] and the governing body decides where the races are going based on cash, based on logistics. So we as a team can’t have any bearing on that. All we can do to try to keep people involved and keep reaching out to the people who we believe will keep watching in the future is to do it via social media and to do it via Twitter and Facebook.

“There’s not much more we can do.”

Next year will see the first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix in Azerbaijan in the form of the ‘Baku European Grand Prix’. The Azeri capital is playing host to the European Games this summer as part of the country’s rapidly growing ambition to host major sporting events.

But former F1 executive Alejandro Agag, now the head of Formula E, backed Carter’s stance and warned that financial troubles beckoned for the sport if it did not change.

He said: “In Formula 1, the standard is so high it makes it difficult to survive, so you need so much to be a Formula 1 team and to be in F1, because the level is so high.

“But to do that you need a lot of people watching, so sponsors will come and put a lot of money into it and that money goes to Bernie [Ecclestone], and then that money goes to the teams – if that circle is not working well, it’s very difficult to continue and make it last. So it’s a really difficult problem to solve.”

Indeed, financial problems have already hit the sport with the Marussia and Caterham teams suffering.

Marussia recovered with new investment earlier this year and re-entered F1 as Manor Marussia.

Caterham were not so fortunate, having had their assets sold off before the start of the season.